Speed Wins (If You Do It Right)

Speed Wins (If You Do It Right)

Insights | 08 March 2018

The pace of change is accelerating. Faster times to market and shorter innovation cycles are a crucial advantage for many businesses. An Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science 2017 study[1] revealed innovation can increase a firm’s growth by more than 3 percent.

PMOs play a leading role in delivering tangible gains in this regard. Some studies show PMOs can improve time to market by double digits, but not all PMOs are there yet.

Here are four ways to assess if your PMO will help your business accelerate ahead of the competition:

  1. The PMO connects the dots — from past to present and from team to strategy

We’ve all heard the phrase before. It’s some variation of, ‘Those who fail to recall history are doomed to repeat it.’ The same goes for project and programme management. Unless the PMO can accurately communicate why projects have stalled in the past, increasing speed will only be harder in the future.

This type of root cause analysis has always been critical for PMOs to establish and justify their value. It is essential that this doesn’t fall by the wayside after a PMO is established. This discipline can be valuable even for PMOs with highly effective delivery teams. They may spend less time digging through past predictors of failure and spend more time functioning as the connective tissue between an Agile team on the ground and the wider strategic objective, communicating transparent benchmarks and success metrics.

  1. The PMO understands people are behind all successful projects

In the book, “The Psychology and Management of Project Teams,”[2] edited by François Chiocchio, E. Kevin Kelloway and Brian Hobbs, project leaders need to be concerned about project life cycles through the lens of stress and recovery in the workplace.

No person or team can work sustainably at absolute capacity. Regarding workload and time requirements, the book states recovery is about “peaks and valleys.” Does your PMO “adopt an across-project perspective” for people working on more than one project? This means considering the balance of individuals working in high vs. low workload times and factoring in “adequate time” for recovery.

  1. The PMO focuses on finding and nurturing talent

According to a PMI study[3], lower performing PMOs reported not having the right talent in place to get the job done. When asked about the “right skills base”, only 27 percent of low performers said they had the right skilled employees, versus 58 per cent for high-performing PMOs.

One report in the PM World Journal[4] explains how “many PMOs are guilty of neglecting the PMs’ development function and turning it into a pool of resources without paying attention to leveraging that function for organisational benefit.” The solution, according to the report, is remarkably simple: specialised training, defined career paths and opportunities for cross-training.

  1. The PMO is relentless about strategic alignment, but understands it’s everyone’s struggle

No product or service is going to be delivered faster in today’s rapidly changing competitive environments without a clear line of sight between strategy formulation “up top” and implementation on the ground. Successful PMOs understand this but will also understand that alignment is an enduring struggle for nearly all leaders in an organisation. PMOs must empathetically call out misalignment whenever they see it, but know they aren’t alone.

In the end, reducing time-to-market and revving up the innovation engine will always be a daunting task, but PMOs have so many opportunities in which to take the lead. Aim to focus on people, process, alignment and execution, while remaining nimble and open to opportunity. Tomorrow’s projects may look different, but the fundamentals of what makes a high-performing PMO will remain the same.

Do you need help establishing your PMO? Call us today on +65 6818 5771.

[1]https://industry.gov.au/Office-of-the-Chief-Economist/Publications/AustralianInnovationSystemReport2017/index.html

[2]https://books.google.com/books?id=gIQSBwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=isbn:0199861382&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7rMb-ra3YAhXjx1QKHUryDvsQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

[3] https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/thought-leadership/pulse/pmo-strategy-implementation.pdf

[4]http://pmworldjournal.net/article/the-role-of-the-pmo-in-advancing-project-managers-skills-to-sustain-organizational-value/
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